Agroecosystems include highly managed, productivity-oriented systems which vary widely in their dependence on chemical, energy, and management inputs, and are one conservation tactic identified to protect extant diversity (Soule, 1993). Defining "quality indicators" associated with agroecosystems relies on concepts not inherent in the system itself, just as do efforts to define sustainability. Rather, concepts such as sustainability or "quality" imply values derived from a human or cultural perspective for a particular management system (J. Tait, personal communication). These perspectives help determine whether a particular agricultural input enhances agroecosystem quality or not.
Four major components of agricultural systems have been proposed by Antle (1994) in studies on pollution and agriculture. His work highlighted relations among (1) agricultural production, (2) the broader agroecosystem, (3) human health considerations, and (4) valuation and social welfare, with each possessing characteristics
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